Let’s face it; running a small business can be exciting AND stressful. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect and try to figure out how you can improve your business for the next year. Here are some quick and easy tips to help start the New Year on a strong note with your small business.
1. Get Listed. This is the quickest and easiest thing you can do for your business. Make sure you are listed on all the major search engines. This allows your customers to find you faster and easier on the internet. No technical expertise is needed for this step.
Before you start registering you need to create a short description (200 characters) and long description of your business. A company tag line. A digital copy of your logo. The logo should be about 300 x 300.
- Google Places: Google.com/local/add/businessCenter
- Bing Places: bingplaces.com
- Yahoo Local: smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings/ (The basic listing is free, bottom right of page.)
- Yelp: biz.yelp.com/claiming
There are plenty of other search engines and you should consider adding those that most effect your business, ie. TripAdvisor, CitySearch, etc.
2. Go Local, Think Mobile. Mobile users tend to take action quicker. If they are looking at you or your site on a mobile device they also have a higher propensity to interact with you. Currently, 15% of all web traffic, and 15% of Google searches are done by a mobile device. By the end of this year, that number will double to 30% or more. Even more astounding over 50% of mobile search is local. If you completed the first tip, your business now has a local listing on the map search engines. The top three are Google Places, Bing Maps, and Yahoo Maps; check and verify. Also consider some geo-based social platforms such as Foursquare: foursquare.com/business.
While we are thinking mobile. You should see what your website looks like on various mobile devices. Depending on the results you might want to consider upgrading your website to a responsive design sooner than later. Here is a link to 19 Tools to Test your Site for Mobile Devices from Practical Ecommerce.
3. Use Email. Email is a tool that almost everyone uses on a daily basis. The great thing about email is that it is cheap and the most cost effective way to market to your customers and potential customers. Not only do a significant number of consumers prefer email marketing over social media, they vote with their wallet. More consumers have made a purchase as a direct result of receiving an email than from engagement with social media, deal sites, or direct mail. More importantly, email marketing can drive direct sales or inquires to your business.There are plenty of email marketing options available to you, but we prefer Constant Contact. This program has over 400 email templates, and the option to build your own with HTML code. It is very user friendly and offers a multitude of features and has great live customer support. Best of all, this email marketing program is available at reasonable prices with a free trial.
4. Update your Email Signature. Your Email signature is a business card that goes out every time someone in the office sends an email. A well designed email is a promotional tool that reinforces the professionalism of you and your business. At a minimum, your Email signature should contain:
- Your full name and title
- Your contact information (address, phone number, email address, and website URL)
- Personal and/or professional social network links (Facebook, LinkedIn, Blog, etc)
Other items you may also consider adding (not all of them at once though): company tag line, a promotional message, ability to sign up for email newsletters, company logo, favorite quote, company announcement, invite to a special event, a personal profile picture. Just remember two things: keep your signature up to date, and don’t let it get cluttered.
5. Never Stop Learning. The world of business is constantly changing so you need to find a way to keep your skills up to date. This does not mean you need to become an expert in different areas, you just need to be aware of them and what they can do for your business. Using Social Media is a great example. There are many ways to learn with a busy schedule. The top three convenient ways to continue learning are:
- Participate in one webinar per month/quarter on a topic you need to know more about.
- Attend a conference or seminar. Constant Contact offers free educational seminars around the nation on a variety of topics.
- Buy a book on CD or borrow it from the library; listen as you commute.
6. Build a Social Media Presence. OK, this is a big step, worthy of multiple blog posts. There are a variety of ways to do this. Our main recommendation is first create a Social Media Strategy, with measurable goals. Next, create a posting calendar to implement your strategy. Here is a great PDF on how to Get started building your Social Media Presence.
7. Consider Coupons or Contest Giveaways. This should be part of the strategy mentioned above. Email marketing, coupled with a coupon tends to yield higher open-rate and click-through percentages. Customers that sign up for coupon mailing lists are usually anxious to make a purchase and a coupon is the final push needed. Everyone is always looking to save some money.
As for contest giveaways, people love to win things! Make sure what you’re giving away is related to your business and something that people want to tell others about. Consider using Facebook ads and/or Google ads to further promote your contest. As an official Google AdWords Partner, we want to help you get started on Google AdWords, so when you spend $25 on AdWords, we’ll add a $100 advertising credit to your account. (New accounts only.)
A new year is a chance for a fresh start for your business. In addition to reviewing your past performance, using these 7 tips can prepare your business for growth and more customers. These tips do not require any specialized skills, just the effort to implement them. And if you are into New Year’s resolutions, here are 5 one-size-fits-all resolutions to try. Good Luck!
And please, email me your results.
Digital Marketing Specialist
Connect: Discover Service Through Rotary